Japan Expo 2011: Gems digged up from dirt of mediocrity. Impressions, Loot and more

It certainly has been a very long while I didn’t make any blog post, hasn’t it?
Quite a familiar sentence isn’t it? Well I guess this kind of post once in a while is always fine, so long I enjoy doing them. Anyway folks, this is yet again a little report of what I’ve been doing at the Japan Expo of this year.

Content: description of my little adventure during 4 days at Japan Expo (France, Paris, Parc des Expositions), goodsmile company booth, tsubameyado, loot and many more. Also, I’ve got my camera this time!


If you need an introduction regarding Japan Expo, I suggest you to check out the blog post I did a year ago.
Once again this year, Japan Expo was definitely crowded here and there during the 4 days, totalizing 200.000 attending visitors. I can’t help but wonder how come we can have so many visitors compared to Anime Expo, especially considering the stark difference regarding the guests… oh well.

Anyway, let’s start the usual!

Report and Impressions

Wednesday 29th june 2011
(before the JE)

Little introduction before the event: this year JE was definitely not what I fully wanted to attend, although unlike last year, it was planned thoroughly a month in advance… I guess I had too much spare cash this time and wanted to meet again my friends and acquaintances from France for a blast.

As you can imagine, I wasn’t looking forwards to Yuuki (Escaflowne) or Igarashi (Candy). I didn’t play any silent hill games or anything that would make me want to check out  Yamaoka. Let’s not talk about the random japanese catchers etc. Then… who was I looking for, aside of having fun with people?
Only Nightow and May’n presences are probably the noteworthy big shots (but considered as regular guests for JE staff) and Baba (tales of series producer).

Thus, the plan was set in motion, and it was definitely thanks to Spear that I didn’t cough ridiculous amount of cash just for lodging (Paris is really not your best vacation place if you look for something cheap…). Thus, I only had to spend 82€ ($118) for the thalys and 17.2€ ($25) for travel within Paris (RER expenses are quite expensive on the long run, even for 4 days).

Anyway, I arrived at Spear’s place on wednesday evening and we were soon joined by Mic2070, then Mereck (kawasoft), kohaque (french SOS brigade) and kef (touhou.net). That being said, good ol’ mereck was once again doing stuff at the very last minute (and being cursed with  fucked up delivery of the Narcissu 2nd discs), so he basically showed up around midnight, which is obviously not really healthy for him considering how painful the first day will be for setting up the kawasoft booth etc.

Thursday 30th june 2011
(first day of the JE)

A very slow start for all of us, waking up around 7am (although mic had it worse, waking up at 5am as he has to help touhou.net booth for thursday only). Thus, I and spear had some leeway to dispel our lethargic state a little bit.
Even so, we didn’t have many choice but to press on, considering things were a bit serious from the get go: the objective of thursday was to secure a signature coupon for May’n, as even though there are 3 chances (Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), probabilities are a tad annoying considering Thursday and Sunday were a drawing lot, and Saturday being the only “first come first served” system. On our way, we met TsUb4sa and mygoddess (whom I had the pleasure to meet both of them last year during yukarin’s con..FAILrence).
We all remembered how chaotic it was for some popular guests with the drawing lot system last year, so we had to take all chances at our disposal.
That being said, due to the queue being extremely cluttered, I and Spear decided to pass. We decided to check out few booths, notably Animate (since Cospa is absent this year), while Mic was trying to get his coupon for May’n signature.

This was the first disappointment of the convention to me, especially if we have to compare it with cospa last year: animate was simply split into 2 kind of merchandise: moe and yaoi. The problem aside of the very polarized content is the fact that they offered goods from only 4 series: K-on!, Hakuouki and a very minimalistic content of Heartcatch Pretty Cure and Evangelion (rather obsolete due to the presence of the evastore).
You can imagine how limited the choices were, especially if the only things being sold were miniaturized instrument models, “music box” and figures for K-on, wall scroll and cosplay set for Hakuouki etc.
The only noteworthy thing you can buy from them was the figure of Asuka Langley, gothic lolita by Kotobukiya for 40€ ($58) (which Spear bought on saturday).

Anyway, we were roaming around, trying to figure a bit the time schedule of the goodies at Tokyo Big Sight booth. Mic called spear, taunting us big time that he just got his coupon. We went back there to try our luck, and things weren’t looking good when the 3 persons in front of us were clearly happy with their drawing lot.
I got mine with a nice “gagnant! (winner)” on it, and spear and tsub4sa followed suit (can’t remember if we lost mygoddess already at this point): truth to be told we were wondering if so few winning drawing lot were drawn, or if the staff went a bit overboard with the number of winning lots.

Anyway back to our usual HQ (Kawasoft and Touhou.net booths), we joined Mic who was waiting for us with a “special attire”.

Isn't this Aya cute? D:

Since our objective was surprisingly accomplished already, we didn’t have much things to do, especially considering how light thursday schedule is. I tried to check out if there were any noteworthy cosplays around, but most are the usual Naturo, Bleach, One piece galore with the only exception of a Shannon running around, but couldn’t catch her.
We paid a visit to the niconico booth, and we could meet Momoi Haruko (Seto San from Seto no Hanayome, Feyris Nyannyan from Steins;Gate). Lots of fun with her acting as a MC, full of energy as usual. She had the nice surprise to see Mereck’s girlfriend, Niwakins, cosplaying Makise Kurisu from Steins;gate. Momoi beckoned her and immediately used Feyris voice to match the mood.

A little while later she tried some exotic nekomimi: they are actually mechanical and one of the niconico douga staff was screwing around with the remote here and there.
Equipped with this weird contraption, she was going to perform a mini live, although the vast majority of the audience was as passive as dry dead fish…

After her performance of the opening song of Witch Nurse Komugi, we tried getting a signature from her, which didn’t work for everyone, unfortunately (Nyo and Spear being the lucky bastards of course). Oh well, since she was going to stay for the 4 days of the JE, I thought I will have another shot.

It is slightly past 1pm and I wanted to check out the little conference hosted by Bandai Namco, hoping they would give some information regarding Tales of Graces f and Tales of Xillia. Curious, spear tagged along with me, while mic was a bit busy. On my way, I could see that shannon cosplayer from afar, but I didn’t have time to call her out once again.
Unfortunately, that conference was quite a chore: the start was plagued by lengthy introductions and trailers of upcoming mainstream games of Saint Seiya, both One Piece games, Dragon Ball, Tekken (along with a trailer of its CG movie) before we finally reach their trailers for Tales of the Abyss 3D and Tales of Graces f. Things were a tad annoying with a french MC a bit too hyper and extremely excited about the shonen mainstream games, whereas most of the audience was arguably not impressed by these. Spear had to drop halfway as it was a tad boring and the fact he wanted to have a peek at may’n 15 min showcase. I decided to give up on that, considering the duration and the fact I really don’t want to go through the same content the next day just to have few information about tales of games.
Anyway, as usual, Tales of the Abyss 3D trailer was nothing to write home about, since a 3DS game is hardly possible to gauge properly, especially if it is a port. As soon as its trailer is done, we got the bad surprise that the video for Tales of Graces f was not working… but Baba Hideo (tales of games producer) confirmed that the game should be released in US and Europe in 2012.
As a compensation for this technical issue, Namco staff played the first trailer of Tales of Xillia, without much information aside of being the game celebrating the 15th anniversary of the franchise. There was absolutely no hint if they plan to bring it outside of Japan, but Baba encouraged the french audience to raise their enthusiasm if they want it (which obviously generated a huge response).
Considering I couldn’t get his signature coupon for this day session, I tried to approach Baba considering I wasn’t exactly sure if the JE signing session schedule was correct (since Namco board at their booth indicated that Baba was only signing on thursday).
He was quite surprised I had a japanese copy of Tales of Graces f and gladly signed it and a Shikishi I brought with me.  I could have a little chat with him in japanese (not so easely, but he had no trouble to understand what I meant fortunately), and he seems quite aware of the popularity of the tales of franchise in the US and in Europe. He couldn’t really tell me that much (tried to ask how long it took them for Xillia for instance), and it was impossible for him to confirm if they will keep a dual audio options for Graces (and potentially Xillia), but he certainly saw that  fans had a huge liking for japanese Seiyuu.
By the way, some french fans were also quick to spot him and ask him also an autograph, although I sort of served as a translator (oh well…). Without much surprise, they only knew the Tales of Symphonia series and praised it, although they asked what was the name of the Mana Tree that Lloyd was about to name. Of course, it was Yggdrassil (it is of course not a mere norse mythology reference. Check out Tales of Phantasia if you still don’t know what I’m talking about). Well, it was a pleasure to discuss with him, quite friendly and open despite I was basically your random fan who happened to play an imported version.  Could also take a picture of him.

 

As expected it was way past May’n showcase, so I just went back to touhou.net in order to catch up with Spear and mic. That said, kardhafi told me he found an interesting doujinshi involving Touhou, Umineko no Naku Koro ni and Madoka Magica. Without much afterthough, I paid a visit to the circle, Moe Luv Circle. Over there, a few bunch of doujin stuff based on Touhou, Umineko and Madoka (post cards, key chains, etc), and more importantly, various doujinshi.
Surprisingly enough, that booth was run by a group of spanish fans: color me startled that they came all the way from spain to sell their doujinshi. Due to my position and hobbies, I certainly didn’t have any trouble to oblidge, and bought their general doujinshi, along with a umineko and madoka centred, all of them in English (and a proper spoiler warning for the umineko doujinshi).
Oh yeah, remember the Shannon cosplayer I mentioned twice? She is part of that circle. So it was 2 birds with 1 stone.
Of course, in order to respect their work, I will only post few shots of their fanbook (don’t expect any scans). The 8 spanish artists had their respective deviantart and/or Pixiv, as follow:
Aiwa (pixiv), Ninamo (pixiv / DA),KawaiiDream (pixiv / DA), Ayame Shiroi (DA), Nevee (pixiv / DA), Kenneos (pixiv / DA), Lisco (DA), CyberSaku (DA).

  
  
  

After this unexpected loot session, I more or less checked around with spear and mic if there was anything interesting or whatnot (just in case we don’t find anything out of ordinary, like last year). And well, spear did find something: a 1/7 griffin Uesagi Kenshin figure for 25€ ($36). No matter how odd the price was, it was definitely e genuine figure so heh.
We pretty much went all over the main hall and went to the second hall (hall 6, hosting the comic con, video games and signing/conference booths), and we found the Good Smile Company booth, pretty well organized this year once again.
Aside of the usual flyers (which were the same than last year), the figures shown there were quite recent, along with interesting teasers such like both Madoka nendoroids (Magical girl and school uniform versions). Aside of the usual free fans, you could also buy the Hatsune Miku Nendoroid, Ouen version (support version) for 30€ ($43). Yes, as surprising as it might be, it is roughly the same price than buying it from their website, shipping included (or even cheaper if you consider the fixed shipping even for 1 nendo, and the customs taxes). They had 300 of them, and they still had 70 on Saturday noon, to ultimately sell all of them (either by the end of Saturday, or Sunday morning). Color me extremely curious how they could lighten the obviously expensive shipping fees due to the weight and numbers, but also the customs.
Anyway, it was quite eye candy here and there and indulged myself with a Miku Ouen nendo (Spear, tsub4sa and mygoddess followed my lead).

 


one of the cutest nendo to date

As the end of the day was ultimately closing by, I tried to check out other booths, avoiding that huge forest of bootlegs and whatnot. Found myself at Book Off, dealing with second hand stuff that are quite in good condition for a very reasonable price. I found there the visual fanbook and ultimate artbook of Kanon, but even if the price wasn’t that high (28€ / $40) for each, I’m not really that much of a Kanon fan, especially how Hinoue was pretty much very clumsy at that period (if it was some clannad/LB or white clover book, it would be a complete different story).
At least, I could find Ito Noizi’s Gurren artbook for 28€, in an excellent shape. On our way back, Spear got himself a Furyu Tenshi Hand Sonic figure for 22€ ($31.17).

The first day is finally over, and I honestly didn’t expect having that kind of loot right from the get go.

day 1 loot

Spear and I returned home, while Mic, Kef, Mereck and Kohaque made a stop to buy some food, in order to avoid buying prohibitive priced food at the convention (yep, the 1€ per takoyaki ball stuff are back…).

Friday 1st july 2011
(second day of the JE)

The objective of the day was much less difficult this time I guess: grabbing Nightow’s signature, and hopefully getting the  Vash ex libris as Nyo could only get the wolfwood one on thursday (they certainly underestimated the demand for this illustration.
This time however, I got a tad unlucky, but mic could drew a winning lot and passed to me his coupon. Spear and Tsub4sa continued their winning streak meanwhile.

Once the coupons in the pocket, the whole morning was more or less a stroll around the various booths, although as I mentioned previously, the incredible ratio of bootlegs and other HK stuff is really a huge deterrent for any patronage, unless you are either not caring about that, or not really aware of this plaguing issue.
It certainly help to have a rough idea how the bootlegs usually look like, and having official nendoroid beforehand make the whole ordeal a breeze to deal with (well, some captain obvious cases were ridiculously easy, such like a shop selling 3-4 (lol?) snow miku #150 with the usual poor bootleg issues such like the lack of snowflakes printing on the box etc).
It is always  wonder if JE staff are truly serious about their claim of not condoning bootleg and counterfeits, considering more than 50% of the frigging convention merchandises ARE bootleg to begin with (not even subtle when people actually use popular fanarts, such like DMYO’s black rock shooter or even pixiv arts).

day 2 loot

Afterwards it became a much less busy day may I say: we paid a visit to Momoi who was still in high spirits, despite the audience was still again a bit hesitant or shy to cheer her on. This tome however, when she was free, I could ask her for a signature on a shikishi (considering it was a tad rude already, as there was album and single for sale). In the end, I also bought her single and she signed it as well.

Anyway, as it is almost noon, we started making the sandwiches with what we bought yesterday. One would think we should have done in the morning, but Mereck and Kohaque forgot to remove the ham etc from the cooler and of course took it, forcing us to camp a table and make the sandwiches right in the open… I guess we can call that the true doujin spirit: anyhow, anytime, anywhere, do it yourself! *cough*

The rest of the day was pretty much a slow leisure time: more “window shopping” or rather “let’s dodge bootleg minefields and feeling pity for the poor souls being fooled” session. I’ve lead the merry group to the “clayz” booth, showing Miyagawa’s assistant working on a new figure (which will be a Akemi Homura, “normal” pose that should be shown for the next Wonder Festival). They were selling Gretel, Blue Pastel limited edition figure for 20€ ($29) and  Morikubo Yuna for 69€ ($99), with 2 other unidentified figures. Spear and tsub4sa bought a gretel, while mygoddess take a yuna. I was a bit tempted by the gretel considering the price, although I rarely fancies figures aside of nendoroids for some reason, so  more or less restrained a bit my impulses.
Our merry group (as usual, spear, mic, tsub4sa and me, with mygoddess being a bit on his own) attended the little concert done by yumeduo.  We got nice classics here and there such like Super Mario World themes, One Winged Angel, etc.

Afterwards, we just had enough time to go to the signing area to grab our nightow signatures (with far more ex libris this time).

The day was pretty much over after that: went to say hi to some people I knew, then go back to touhou.net before the closure of the second day.
A big core of Touhou.net, Kawasoft and Kohaque lead everyone for a dinner at a japanese restaurant close to Spear’s house. Much to my horror, the price tags were definitely nothing to sneeze at, so I went on my stingy mode and helped myself with a mere yakitori menu (still 7.2€ / $10 in the face… at least, tap water is free and available in france, unlike in belgium…).
Mereck had the “good idea” to appoint me close to one of his japanese contacts, Takebayashi who has been in France for 8 months already. Well, I could get a thorough revision of stroke order of hiragana and katakana, and it seems I could entertain him, otherwise he was pretty much on his own (I surely didn’t expect I would have to talk in Japanese after my encounter with Baba). Color me surprised that he could hang around with his Homura’s cosplay today… well it was a little bit creepy, nothing more.

Saturday 2nd july 2011
(third day of the JE)

Here we gooooo… Saturday, the dreaded day, which makes look like friday was the calm before the storm.
Nothing really noteworthy to do, but the problem was obviously the number of attending visitors reaching almost the double of Thursday.

Tried to grab another May’n signature for a friend, and more or less got it without much problem (no real guilt since despite being first come first served mode for saturday, there wasn’t a rush at all, proved afterwards by the queue).
Since May’n was first come first served, I also took the opportunity to try getting a Yamaoka coupon just in case if spear or mic missed the opportunity, and it was certainly a wise decision: got it, while spear got a dud.

After this third coupon hunt, Spear, Mic, Tsub4sa and I decided to check out Tokyo Big Sight booth for a free paper bag but also camping for the demonstration of Kanan Asuka, doujin artist who did some cute originals but also Nanoha doujinshi.
While Spear and I were in the queue for the paper bag, I noticed the wall full of messages and pictures, and it seems you could get a complete set (bag, fan and tokyo guide) if you simply take a pose with one of their mascot. Well, why not then? A little shortcut, but it was definitely much more time efficient, and we of course let our places for other people. Since the queue was for noon but the demonstration is at 12:30, we decided to stay anyway, so I could have yet another chat with Japanese staff (Spear though I literally broke when I kept replying in japanese to anyone, www).
Without much wait though, Kanan Asuka started her demonstration, while one of the staff was describing what she was doing and a translator was trying to keep it up (some awkward words, but she certainly had a decent French). The demonstration lasted for 30 minutes, leading to an interesting and cute art but wasn’t obtainable for some reason. The process was admitted to be actually 8hours, with a comment that some people are faster than that, and Kanan was aspiring to be faster, but to encourage her, I yelled a random “十分です” which seems to have worked.
After that, they started their sign session, with 4 special Shikishi (similar to the Nanoha ones we got last year with Yukarin), only destined for the first 50 attendants for each of the two demonstrations on  saturday and sunday. After some struggle, I got mine.
Since spear and I knew she was doing doujinshi, we asked to the staff when we can buy her doujinshi, and it seems it is only after the second demonstration around 15:30.

Taking our leave, we first checked if there wasn’t anything new at kawasoft and touhou.net boothes, and I had the nice surprise surprise to meet some german guy, and one of them was cosplaying TK, so a mandatory photo was of course taken.

dance in the shadow!

Next, we decided to check out shiitake’s works at nobi nobi’s booth. Unfortunately, as expected, there wasn’t really any artbook or so over there, just the faity tale book, which is a bit a “waste” for us. That said, there was a lottery, with a handmade drawn shikishi as a prize (it seems it was done every day), the result being communicated on 6pm. After taking part of it, we returned to the tokyo big sight for the grand sale, and I took basically one of each, except the touhou doujinshi (the total was just for 22€ / $31.7 ). Tsubasa took every doujinshi, just like Spear, although I can’t remember what Mic bought.
Midway, we checked if Animate didn’t change offer anything but nope. However, on the back of the booth, there were other figures, and among them, the gothloli Asuka mentioned previously, which spear bought on the spot.

Day 3 loot

Once the loot was over, we went back to touhou.net in order to drop our stuff and lighten the load. Next, we decided to check Shiitake’s own booth, Gensodo. And… no wonder why she was put in the “young creators” side instead of amateurs: it was quite the brutal pro level, with a lot of gorgeous art that would blow anyone’s retina. However, this is also a wallet buster: A3 artworks were sold for 55€ minimum, while minimalistic artbook (something like 10 pages? can’t remember) were for 15€ at least. Well, they were quite the premium stuff indeed, as you can see on her site (quite the business one to boot, despite she barely started quite recently, since you could see 1 digit serial label on the artworks), but that’s a bit too much of a luxury for my taste (not that expensive, but the style and all make it a bit over the top compared to what I usually take so heh). Considering her website is in japanese, french and english, I wonder if we will see her again soon? Most likely…

The timing is about right to claim Miyagawa’s signature, but I wanted to check clayz’s booth first, but as I thought, everything was sold aside of 2 Yuna, which were now discounted to 40€ each. Well, I should have taken a gretel in the end, especially considering its original price, vintage and style but oh well.
Spear and Tsub4sa joined me at the signing area and while I was having mine, I asked if Miyagawa had any stocks left, but unfortunately, they only had that much of a stock so no dice. On our way back, Spear decided to take a Yuna figure, which is ultimately the last one (yes, that makes the 6th figure for him).

Back to our HQ, we sort of split on our own. Tsub4sa followed me to keep me company while I was looking for some noteworthy cosplay. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to say, as like I mentioned before, there were too much mainstream shonen stuff  (these and also things like Vampire Knight…). The cosplay situation in France/Belgium is really not what I can call “rich”, considering the very little non mainstream/recent stuff (Vocaloid cosplays started barely last year and you could count them this year with 2 hands without any trouble). The only exceptions were 1 Episode 2 Beato, as well as 2 battlers I could spot from afar on Friday and Saturday, but without any occasion to approach them (a bit like how it went for that shannon). That said, after a while, I found a dress Beatrice, who certainly worked hard on the dress pattern. A shame I couldn’t ask her if she played the VN, as she seemed quite in a hurry after being asked for photos by so many people besides me.

I then went to my way to nobinobi in order to check out how the lottery was doing, but I got the nice surprise that even if you are absent, if your name is picked, you will be contacted for the prize… that would have been nice to declare it beforehand, in order not to waste people time. Oh well.

Back to the usual HQ, I can’t find Spear nor Mic, so I was basically loitering around until something unexpected occured. Kunihisa and Takebayashi were back after taking few pictures, but still in their Madoka and Homura cosplay. As they were done, Kunihisa is taking off his madoka cosplay and hand over it to Mereck, jokingly asking him to wear it. However, it was a fatal mistake, a true horror! Mereck accepted the contract and became Puella Magi Mereck Magica!

[Warning. The following content may affect people in the wrong way, be it disgust, offense, and other negative emotions, you name it. But some of you might like it for the lulz and the hilaririty following this event. Therefore, I will post ONE single picture and the rest in links. Remember: it was just for fun and a complete deranged period that lead to sheer laugh (and optionally, abdominal pain due to the extreme laughter as an aftermath). If you are weak to this, GET THE HELL OUT. You have been warned. Take care of your eyes, because it BURNS!]

Okay, you read the memo I take it? No?
Then I will repeat again: you do NOT want to look at it, unless you are ready for a magnificient lulz trap cosplay that is hardly fitting either the character or the poor soul wearing it. Again, don’t expect some kipi or anything.

You are still ready? Okay, then here we go! Mereck Magica, with Kunihisa borrowing Takebayashi’s homura’s cosplay!

Why doesn't QB try to have contract with boys? Because of results like THIS


You are alive? Surely enough you didn’t open the pandora box yet! Anyway, I will leave the rest in links. Please be aware that this one is the most “safe” picture among many. Of course, everything else is decent (relatively) and legal, the problem is that it may be unhealthy for your eyes… leading to a very predictable and understandable reaction just like our comrade orphi, who had an intense DO NOT WANT reaction when I’ve shown one of the pictures with my camera (priceless may I say).

a true DO NOT WANT!

See his face? Well there you have it. If you still want to check the adventures of MANdoka Mereck Magica, you can always check the following links. Rest assured, Niwakins, despite the initial terror, tagged along and borrowed Takebayashi’s cosplay… with some even more lulz moments as result.

-I’m Puella Magi Mereck Magica!
-“Je pense, donc je suis”
-KIRA
-oppai~
-~oh noes a pervert! (you mean two, don’t you?!)
-You sure it is a girl? Oh wait…
-Homu homu lost it
-Madoka in a rebellious age
-Pedobear in action! Wait… something is wrong
-Final pose

Anyway, after this completely lunatic moment, the end of the third day finally has come. Just like last year, Kawasoft and Touhou.net (minus Mereck who tagged along with the sos brigade) organized a pizza party at spear’s place, with Nina joining us with 2 of her friends.
Many lulz, along with some serious discussions regarding the JE but also some stupid troll blog post, and the spring season series.

While many of them left around 10PM, nina trained the rest of us for some glow stick pattern for May’n live tomorrow. Of course, we weren’t synch at all, and it became a bit hard to follow a veteran like her. Suffice to say, when Kohaque and Mereck arrived, they were pretty much trolling us about our poor performances, but heh.
Saturday fever night anyone?

Sunday 3rd july 2011
(fourth and last day of the JE)

This is it, ladies and gentlemen! We’ve finally reached the very last day of our pilgrimage. Jest and exaggeration aside, the tiring event is finally about to end, and without much to check around, there was a single thing I really wanted to snatch here: a custom drawing on a Shikishi by Tsubameyado. Thanks to spear, I’ve seen her incredible talents, and it is no wonder she was busy and courted hours and hours during the 3 previous days (I was checking her booth here and there during the 3 days, but to no avail). Since I could grab nearly anything important I felt I had to get, I decided to camp her booth until I manage to have my shikishi.

As I arrived around 9h15-9h20 at her booth, I was horrified to see quite a big queue already: something like 10 people… knowing she needs at least 20-30 minutes per shikishi, that was a long waiting time to expect, but I didn’t mind that much in the end.
Anyway, she arrived around 10am, and we got some… surprise: it seems the first 3 people actually ordered some shikishi on saturday…. one would expect them to scramble afterwards but no: basically, as soon they received their shikishi, they asked for another one on the spot… oh bother…

Thankfully, I wasn’t alone and I could have a little chat with Oyatama and Orphi, soon followed by Yukimusha. Oya was a bit curious how rewrite was and I gave him some of my thoughts, along with the ones I’ve posted on Animesuki (thanks to mic’s 3G tablet). Kcazer also joined us a little while after.

Considering the obvious waiting time not going to be cut short any time soon, Orphi, oya and Kcazer decide to look for few things before coming back. I had Orphi doing a little errand at the same time and indicating Kanan Asuka’s booth at Tokyo Big Sight.
Meanwhile, I and Yuki were following a bit the blind test, and it was quite “difficult” for those who don’t know classics such like Orange Road and whatnot. Suffice to say, the winner managed to get 84 songs among 100, which was quite impressive.

Anyway, it is already 2PM (so basically waiting for already what… 5 hours?) and I noticed that a certain golden witch was still displayed on tsubameyado booth. In fact, it is some sort of a gold colored Shikishi with a intricate and beautiful black pattern for Beato. Since I didn’t have much thing to lose, I asked to Tsubameyado’s assistant how much it is, despite I expect a plain “it isn’t for sale”… however, she answered “dooze” (well mangled douze, french “twelve”), so I was like “?! 十二ユーロ?!” ($17.3) which she confirmed. Of course, my reaction was basically like this. What’s even better is that I’ve realized only afterwards that the black portions that forms the drawing is -not- anything like ink or whatsoever, but actually black drawing paper… in a single piece: a Kirie actually. That means Tsubameyado had to cut precisely around a single sheet of paper, including the eyelashes which are barely connected to the hair portions. Excellent craftmanship, and the art itself is us hardly something I’ve seen before among the countless fanarts of Umineko.

Golden Witch Beatrice

Soon after, I realize that there in a umineko doujinshi buried under a pile of Touhou’s, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem it was for sale. That said, after asking twice, I could pretty much grab it for 6€ ($8.6).
I could discuss a little bit with her assistant: she had some french notions and had a bit some difficulty to deal with it, but thankfully, it seems my Japanese was fairly enough (it seems every Japanese persons I was talking to were impressed by my japanese despite my grammar was abysmal to speak of).

Continuing the spending madness, I finally realized (yes yes, it seems my fatigue really hindered my ability to discern things on sunday) that a transparent sheet wasn’t about Kaguya / Flandre, but actually Bernkastel with Lambdadelta, leading me to check the pile completely, revealing one for Erika, Virgila and Zepar/Furfur. Couldn’t care less for the latter, but the rest was quite excellent.


Anyway, it was finally my turn after a while (6hours… I couldn’t really feel my legs after a while), and I had the good idea to record it.. if only it wasn’t for the memory card being full midway… good thing I had another one on me, but heh.


Witch of Miracles Bernkastel and Ushiromiya Ange

Yes, as you can see, Tsubameyado is drawing while -standing up-. As I was discussing with her assistant in japanese, it seems she is always doing this way, and… she doesn’t take any lunch break whatsoever which I can also testify that: while I was waiting for my turn, she never had a break, except twice, just because someone was asking her few things and that she took 1 glass of tea.

In the end, I was spending like a complete frenzy guy, but it was well worth it considering her talents. All of my spending on the last day was simply only for her booth.

day 4 loot

Please by any means, check out her web site, deviant art and pixiv pages!
http://tsubameyado.iaigiri.com/
http://enzan99283.deviantart.com/
http://www.pixiv.net/member.php?id=99283

After this frenzy, it was time to join everyone else who were lurking in the livehouse during Lightning live, in order to seize the best places for May’n live. It is most likely because I rarely go to any live, but Lightning concert really made my ears ring for a long time, to the point I really had to cover my ears here and there. Even though I wasn’t really interested by them, they certainly knew how to lead a show, and the guitarists were epic win on various instances.

Anyway, May’n live was of course restricted by your usual crap: you cannot record it nor take pictures of it. But I’m sure you will be able to find some recording. As for me, I didn’t bother considering I wanted to keep at least one hand on my loot, while the other was holding my only one glow stick (cheapstake here as usual).
I can’t exactly name all of the songs May’n sung, but it was at least 6 of them, with  Tomoshibi, Lion, Nothern Cross, Universal Bunny, Scarlet Bullet, Phonic Nation.
It was certainly much more exciting with a live environnement, although it felt less pumping and more empty with a complete lack of instrumentists (especially after Lightning performance), but at least May’n could keep the show running with her dancers.

Among the crowd, I didn’t expect that many glow sticks being used (probably thanks to Spear plan), but paradoxally, I felt the audience was far smaller than it should be. Heh.
Anyway, after leaving the live house, I was trying to recover from the fever, noise and fatigue, although I was astonished to see Tsubameyado still working on few more shikishi despite it is already 6PM… Talk about workalcoholic. In the end, orphi still got his meruru, but wrong hair color.

Anyway, few people organized some sort of a tribute to her, but gathering around with our respective shikishi (If I had the chance of having another shot for a second shikishi, it would have been a Homu homu, like this one ~~). Even though it was arguably not the majority of the happy owners of those, we were quite numerous and we made a picture altogether.

So many Shikishi!

Voila, Japan Expo 2011 is now over. Well not completely for me, since I have to go back to spear, spend the night there and go home only around 10pm. Even with so such margin, I almost got late for my thalys (I ran so much in Paris Nord station that I thought I was going to throw up…). But in the end, everything ended fine.

Afterthought

The bad:
Pretty much last year, the  crowd management and general organization of the JE had a lot left to be desired: the general issue is that the convention is horribly shorthanded in term of manpower, leading to a lot of complications, especially on saturday.
I’m not sure if you heard of it, but Dybex (french editor for FMA) had a lot of troubles to deal with fans for Milos no Seinaru Hoshi (FMA movie), and the JE direction forced them not to allow any queue to be formed before the tickets were given out (scheduled for 11AM, while people are in the convention venue at 9am…). Of course, it lead to so many issues to the point dybex staff was forced to throw a drawing lot system, leading to a LOT of apeshit drama.

That kind of decision and the general organization of the event are testimony of how messed up it became over time, especially with 200.000 entries for 4 days.

This issue was worsened by a layout that wasn’t as good as last year: few choices for booth placement were really not the smartest (separating booths like Touhou.net, Kawasoft, SOS brigade, or many “make a sketch” booths being scattered around, while cluttering huge booths together for no reason, like square enix with kurokawa and dybex, leading to stupid result with the queues).
Thank goodness the venues size were sort of fines, but heck…

Another issue that was worse this year that should be mentioned: there were way too few garbage bins. Not only the venues became dirty in a flash, but you could see piled cans nearly everywhere (the obvious issues of having Coca Cola distributing free coke zero 15cl cans every day). There should be at least twice the number in order not to have a mountain of trash by the end of every day.

The ugly:
Communication was once again the biggest issue this year:
I dunno about you, but if you are supposed to open the convention door an hour earlier, wouldn’t it be better to let it know on their frigging website, which still display “10am” while everyone already rushed in at 9am?
Honestly, it was certainly a very annoying issue here and there: you might think that it was easier to enter since the core of the queue has already entered an hour earlier, but it is a very huge issue in term of schedule, as those who had no idea about this change were screwed big time for signing sessions and so forth: I was lucky enough to get every signatures I was aiming for, but some other people who were looking for Yuuki or Igarashi signatures were totally toasted for the “first arrived first served” since it is basically game over past 30 minutes after the opening.

Suffice to say, the communication was terrible as the updates for their website were really lackluster (and I can’t imagine how horrible it would have been in English). A lot of issues regarding guests list and so forth lead to some confusions, so heh…

Another ugly problem that was by far more rampant this year was the abnormal overwhelming presence of bootlegs: you couldn’t even walk more than 10 meters without spotting counterfeits and other chinese stuff, arguably extremely bad for the market.
To add the insult to the injury, the JE staff pinned on various places of the convention a notice mentioning they do not condone bootleg; a practice they were doing for years, yet their inability to even reduce this annoying practice is a testimony of their incompetence…: I didn’t know if I had to cry or laugh at it, considering more than 50% of the shops (not including manga / anime editors) were selling bootlegs right in the open, without any shame whatsoever.
Trying to tell people about this issue was like coping the sea with a mere bowl at this point, but honestly it was really terrible this year, to the point it was even “hard” to find official stuff to begin with.

A third major issue I had with this year JE was the complete non application of common measures regarding security and censorship. Regarding security, I can’t help but facepalm at the emergency exists being -chained-. Yes that’s right, they literally barricaded the emergency exits with chains, in order to prevent people sneaking around. Guess what happen if a fire or an accident of that kind would ever occur? Big problem. If they want to prevent people to sneak around, how about hiring more security guards anyway? Geez…
For the second sub point, I wonder how come the staff would allow shops and amateurs to let their erotic (straight, yuri, BL) content being available to anyone? I mean, considering the huge audience composed of kids and teenagers, I really doubt it is healthy to have guro and all being available on the table not even 1m above the ground. I’m arguably not a puritan dude (otherwise I wouldn’t even touch an eroge to begin with), but there are things to be vigilant about.

Finally, the most annoying problem I wanted to deal with a flamethrower were Free Huggers and certain cosplayers.
For crying out loud, free hugging isn’t about pestering people for hugs or creating a traffic jam for their own activities. I’m aware of the initial intent and purpose of a “free hug”, but 90% of the free huggers at JE were just nitpicking teenagers trying to hug a hot chick/guy and/or following a very annoying trend. If branding huge ass board with “FREE HUGS” ardoned of them or writing all over their body (with guys being half naked, the creeps!), a good chunk were running around, yelling FREE HUGS…So annoying it made me want to yell on various instances “GET THE F*** OUT”.
Meanwhile, some cosplayers really do not consider their attire being an issue on the venues: of course, I’m not talking about skin being exposed, but cumbersome accessories/mock weapons being excessively in the way more than once. Things are even more problematic when a narrow queue force everyone to literally hug each other. I had to dodge many bleach / FF7 Cloud replica swords more than I can count on my hands, and I’m glad I could avoid this kind of guy during May’n live (which was unfortunately not the case for spear).
Really, I wish cosplayers could be treated like in japan: invited to stay on a specific area, and being able to revert to NORMAL clothes should they go to the convention regular venues.

The Good:
I can’t exactly write down any “clearly positive” points since the things I didn’t rant about were either common sense or “a given”.
I mean, it is becoming extremely clear to everyone that they should seperate the JE with the comic con / video games area, in order to have less issues in term of traffic in general.

I guess I will give them credits for spreading the “exposition” booths (Kon, Igarashi’s, etc) around without doing silly stuff. In a way, the different areas were made clearer in their content (with a color pattern etc), so heh.
Naturally, I should say that the activities areas were this time much better placed, avoiding some weird space confinement at times (I would however question the exact usefulness of a catch area at that kind of convention…)

The good point that should be mentioned was the noticably higher amount of doujinshi booths being hosted this year, along with few more cultural booths being placed here and there (among Tokyo Bigh Sight booth). Hopefully this trend will become popular over the time.

And now, the painful bill:
-BE-FR travel: 82€
-Travel in Paris: 17.2€
-Entrance Fee: 35€
-Accomodation and food: 30€
-Loot: 1st day 83€ (Noizi Artbook, Miku Support Nendo, Moe Luv Doujinshi), 2nd day 17€ (Momoi single and Little Hands doujinshi), 3rd day 22€ (Kanan Asuka’s doujinshi), 4th day 66€.
Loot total: 188€

Grand total: 352€ (~ $500)
Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay any hotel or something…

TL,DR mode:

Loot Overview:

   

Negative portions:
-Ridiculous lack of communication in various aspects of the convention (opening schedule, events, staff, information booth number (still at 1), etc)
-Questional security and placement measures
-Crowd management inside was very bad
-Free huggers and certain cosplayers (huge accessories/weapons).
-Overwhelming mass of bootleg
-Food and Drinks price (yep, again)
-Lack of “real” and various official goods related to the guests (nothing new)
-Got a bit too hesitant for the Gretel figure, oh well…

Positive portions:
+umineko stuff (quite unexpected)
+raid at Tsubameyado’s booth
+ Could discuss with japanese guests on all of the 4 days
+Managed to get every signatures I was aiming for
+good time spent with french fans (too many to list, but notably spear, mic, mereck)
+Mayn’ live
+goodsmile company booth

+/- Mereck Magica (it burns so much it is hilarious)

That is all folks!

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7 Responses to “Japan Expo 2011: Gems digged up from dirt of mediocrity. Impressions, Loot and more”


  1. 1 Arabesque July 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Since I follow you on twitter, I had already seen the majority of the pics … even Mereck Magica yes. As you might have expected, my eye sight will never recover. Nor my sanity.

    That warning didn’t really help much.

    I would’ve said ”it looks like you had a good time” yesterday when I first seen this post, but after the afterthoughts … well, going by what you wrote it honestly sounds like with the way things are going its only a matter of time before something does go wrong.

    Pity, I was thinking about visiting there since I was relearning French, but the expo seems like a death trap now lol

    that, and really expensive (352€? Oy …)

    Still, even with the high expenses and many dangers, some things struck me as being priceless (Tsubameyado’s drawing for one).

    Still, I have to wonder, did she do all of these commissions while standing all this time? I mean if the group pic doesn’t include everyone, and there seems like she does multipliable drawings (some are holding two. How much does it cost for each?) and she took about half an hour doing yours so … 10 hours at least?

  2. 2 klashikari July 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Well, I did have good time, but mainly because I was always with people I knew, with a more “elite” vision of manga/anime/VN and so forth. I would definitely be turned lunatic if I was deep down alone without anything “less conventional”.
    It is just that I’m usually harsher and putting more emphasis during my rants, so heh. Truth to be told, I can’t say I regret this little trip, otherwise I would have been ranting ad nauseam and saying I wasted my time and my money.

    So long you aren’t going there alone and you know where to camp at (few booths and stalking usual suspects such like Touhou/kawa/SOS), you are pretty safe. Otherwise, welcome to your usual con filled with way too much mainstream fanboys.

    And yeah, it is always a gamble to go to this kind of convention, but there is always some sort of gems (hence the title this year), with Tsubameyado being an outstanding artist for sure. I’m also adding this mention in the main article but yes: Tsubameyado always draws her shikishi while standing up, and she does it with little to no break… which is frightening, since she never had a lunch break during the whole convention… adding the fact few people orderer some stuff (that she does during the evening at her hotel), one has to wonder where her endurance comes from.

    As for the other questions: she only does 1 shikishi per person at a time, but nothing stop you to redo the queue, which was the case for few people as you could see (if I wasn’t that busy, I would have asked a shikishi on friday and then sunday).
    And yes, she is always standing up, and she is drawing from start to finish with barely few break of not even 10 minutes each. That is to say, she is basically drawing 7-8 hours per day, almost non stop.

  3. 3 Ninamo July 7, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Hiii!!
    I was the Shannon cosplayer! :D Hehe, it’s fun to read that you’re trying to talk to me but you couldn’t until the end XD I was also surprised when you told us that you’re one of the translators of Umineko VN! You have my infinite gratitude for your work!!! Really! And thanks again for talking so good in your blog about our booth and our stuff~ I hope we can spread more and more our love for Umineko and Touhou like this!

    Tsubameyado is a really lovely person. I was also hypnotized watching how she did all those requests… Her drawings are truly beautiful. I gave her a drawing as a present one of the days and she gave me that original kirie with a Shannon and a seagull that she have in her folder (this: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/264170_2210596750428_1412760433_32596030_1978086_n.jpg )… I was WAW ;___; My eyes were almost full of tears… But her gratitude has no limits, and on Sunday she comes to my booth to give me as a present this shikishi: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/268589_2210601910557_1412760433_32596035_3094889_n.jpg . I was trying to make that loooong queue several times but I couldn’t because I always had to take care of my booth or whatever, so when she came with that drawing specially for me… osjfdhiflkjlkdshjfklhj LOVE!! ;___;

    Anyway, I wish I could talk more with you! I wish we can meet again next year! I promise to bring more interesting merchandising~~~

    (Sorry for my awful English :_D)

  4. 4 klashikari July 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Ho, so you were also an artist among those who took part of the “without love it cannot be seen” doujinshi?
    Good job really: I liked your contributions the most along with Ayame Shiroi’s (not saying the rest were bad or anything of course).
    That said, I must repeat myself again: I’m still quite surprised you came all over from Spain for this conventions! Did you manage to compensate the travels and various expenses with your stuff sales? I sure hope it wasn’t too costly for you.

    Ahh, there goes that Shannon’s Shikishi. I was wondering where that one vanished to, especially since I heard she wasn’t selling it. This also explain that second break where she basically disappeared for 2 minutes and came back for her tea ^^”
    With all things said, yes, she is definitely a talented artist. It seems she appreciated a lot her stay in France, so we might see her once again in Europe.

    Lastly, no problem, although I think I was given too much credits here (Chrono is the real man among men if you were to consider the best contribution in general). And rest assured, your English is fairly good.

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